Fall’s an amazing time to visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee: After all, this foothills town comes nestled in the scenic embrace of the Great Smoky Mountains, host to (a) some of the most diverse temperate forests in the world and—not unrelatedly—(b) some famously awesome fall colors.
The outrageously photogenic autumnal show put on by the area’s native deciduous trees and shrubs is reason enough to come here this time of year. But Gatlinburg backs up that natural spectacle with loads of seasonal festivities celebrating this crisp, colorful, and harvest-rich time of year. Here are a few of the fall happenings on tap for 2020!
Oktoberfest At Ober
Ober Gatlinburg hosts its own version of Oktoberfest: that revelrous Munich party featuring lots of lederhosen, dirndls, and—of course—oodles of beer. The 11th annual Oktoberfest at Ober runs from September 25th through November 1st, with free daily performances by the Smoky Mountain Oompah Band and the schnitzel, Bavarian brews, and other delectables in the Bier Garten. All of this is, of course, on top of Ober Gatlinburg’s year-round activities and attractions, including the Alpine Slide, the Scenic Chairlift, and the Chair Swing.
Ripley’s Fright Nights
Every Friday and Saturday night in October from 6 PM till close, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Gatlinburg is once again pulling out all of the (haunted) stops for its annual Fright Nights affair. The theme this year is “Grimsby & Streaper: Back From the Dead,” focused on the owners of a casket company that closed in 1926 when said owners, well, vanished. The hair-raising experience includes live actors (whose interactions with guests are limited due to COVID-19 concerns), animatronics, and plenty of spooky effects: spooky enough that children under six years old aren’t allowed in, and those six to 11 years old have to be accompanied by grownups.
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
Some fantastic hand-made goods will be on display—and for sale—at this year’s Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, underway from October 8th to October 25th at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Some 200 booths will be featuring craftspeople, artisans, and artists from all across the U.S., from potters and leatherworkers to candy makers and photographers. With live music in the mix, too, you’ve got one of the area’s premier fall happenings, bar none—and a great opportunity for nabbing yourself a souvenir or five during your fall Gatlinburg getaway.
Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff
Crisp sunny days, cool evenings, gorgeous mountain views all around—what kind of dish complements the glories of a Gatlinburg fall like chili? Thankfully, you’ll have ample opportunity to indulge in this hearty delicacy—which, of course, often comes with a welcome kick—on November 12th, when the Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff, presented by Bush’s Chili Beans, goes down from 5 to 8 PM in downtown Gatlinburg. A wide variety of homemade chilis will be taking center stage here, backed up by live bands and other entertainment—with, just about needless to say, a good time to be had by all.
Leaf Peeping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
We’ll come around full circle to conclude this roundup by re-emphasizing the joys of leaf-peeping in Gatlinburg’s stunningly scenic backyard. October’s peak window for enjoying the fall colors of the Great Smoky Mountains, though lower elevations usually continue serving up eye-catching hues into early November. From Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove to the Foothills Parkway, Gatlinburg’s a great launching pad for experiencing this truly eye-popping natural show in the most popular national park in the country.
Mark Fall With a Gatlinburg Getaway
Clinking beer steins to foliage photo ops, ghostly corridors to craft booths: Get in the spirit of fall, full bore, with an autumnal escape to Gatlinburg, Tennessee at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. The season’s all-around fabulous here!